La Cave Du Vieil Armand Grand Cru Ollwiller Pinot Gris 2007

Ollwiller, which is a Grand Cru since 1983, lies in the municipality of Wuenheim (Close to the famous Grand Cru of Rangen near Thann), is named after the Château d’Ollwiller that was built in the 12th century A.D. The Ollwiller castle is the former estate of the Bishop of Strasbourg, who was behind the development of the vine in the thirteenth century A.D. The castle is now owned by the Gros family since 1825, cowinemakers and co-founders of the Cave of the Old-Armand.

The vines are situated in a dry microclimate with only 450 mm of rain per annum. The vines are sheltered from the wind by the Hartmannswillerkopf a.k.a. Old-Armand where some heavy fighting in World War I took place, which also destroyed all the vineyards. Its slopes face south-east, with maximum sunshine on an altitude between 260 and 330 m. The soil is composed of conglomerates (loosely cemented heterogeneous material) and marl, reddish sandy clay and gravel.      

La Cave Du Vieil Armand Grand Cru Ollwiller Pinot Gris 2007Color: Light gold with a slight pink touch

Nose: Full on everything, overwhelmingly aromatic. Expect nice sweetness, acidity, fruit, white grapes and also something flinty a trace of sulphur, although it isn’t in the terroir. Marl is. Yellow fruits like white peach (lighter and more elegant compared to the more “common” peach) and dried apricots and pear. Also tighter fruits like white grapes. All of this is in the background adding to the complex nose. This is so much more than just a fruity wine. Unbelievable how well the sweet and the acidity blend together, and don’t forget this is just the nose we’re talking about.

Taste: Thick and syrupy, but not very sweet. Again just like the nose, very good balance and all tastes blend well together. Hints of peach yoghurt, but also a well-defined depth of dried apricots. Fantastic stuff this is. Not as mineral as I’ve expected, but great acidity to keep it in check. Don’t get me wrong it’s not very sweet nor is it acidic, it’s just perfect, although I have to say that the taste is less complex than the nose is.

This gem will do with a lot of foods, yes, we can mention de usual suspects like salads and fish, coquilles etc. But this one is excellent on its own. Sitting back with a nicely chilled “Old Armand” is the way to enjoy it for me. This should only be sold in Magnum sized bottles. Wonderful, This is again an example, why I love Alsatian wines so much.

Points: 90

This review is dedicated to Yvonne and Joost. If you can read dutch please check out their website about Alsatian Wines.

Rodenbach Grand Cru (6%, 33 cl)

More than a year ago I reviewed the “Original” Rodenbach and concluded I wouldn’t buy that one anymore since this Rodenbach Grand Cru is so much better. Obviously I had it before. Time to write a review about the “better” Rodenbach. And as I have said before, I like to age almost all of my Belgian beers, and this one is no exception (this time). This particular bottle was aged for another year and a half (past it’s best before date). Before my additional ageing, the beer was aged at the brewery for two years (in oak) and then mixed with young beer. 2/3 old beer with 1/3 young beer.

At this point I must give off a little warning. I was in a beer shop recently and overheard some clients talking about pouring the big bottle of Rodenbach Vintage down the toilet. The big bottle should even be better than this Grand Cru, but this is a Flemish Red Brown beer, it’s acidic, so probably not for everyone…

Color: Dark red with brown foam

Nose: Fresh, with a small hint of stale beer, acidic. Sour cherries. Deep brooding yeast (not a lot of it though). Spices. With time some raisins and plum, which adds another layer of depth to the beer. Beef jerky? wow!

Taste: Yeah! Acidic, but with extreme depth. Too much to comprehend all at once. This is so much better than the original Rodenbach! Cherries in alcohol (the alcohol taste is enhanced by the extra ageing). Black cherries, and even some other red fruits from the family of berries. Definitely a favorite of mine. Extremely refreshing. One bottle is not enough. Long finish, with a lemony finish.

This beer takes ageing very well, but also warnings are given off no to age for too long. I just don’t know how long too long is. Ageing add’s  a lot of complexity. Can’t wait to try a vintage Rodenbach! I’m pretty sure I won’t be pouring that one down the toilet!

Points: 88

Heim Riesling Grand Cru Praelatenberg 2006

Christmas time is here again, and I needed a decent bottle of wine for Christmas dinner as a companion to sauerkraut and fish. I do like Alsace, so this time I pulled out a Grand Cru Riesling from Praelatenberg. Praelatenberg is one of 51 Alsatian Grand Crus, that got this status in the big expansion of 17 December 1992. It is located between Kintzheim and Orschwiller, and is the most southerly of the Grand Cru sites of the Bas-Rhin.

PraelatenbergAbove Praeatenberg towers the Koenigsbourg castle, built in the 12th century. The altitude of Praelatenberg slopes ranges from 250 to 350 metres and has an east-south-east orientation with a size of 18.7 Ha. The granite bedrock that underlies all Alsace vineyards is very close to the surface. The soil is heavy, covered with loose schist, and is rich with silicium. Dotted with stones rich with iron, quartz and other minerals. This helps the warming of the ground and lets water through easily.

Heim is now owned by Bestheim, a cooperation that was founded in 2000 by the merger of two smaller cooperations from the villages of Bennwihr & Westhalten, together with the house of Heim.

Color: Straw Yellow.

Nose: Very clean and citrussy. Lemon. Through the freshness and the acidity there is another layer, that at first seems sweet, but also has a creamy peachy element to it. A sort of light non-fat whipped cream of lemon and peach. Very nice. Sweet as in coffee-caramel sweets we know over here as Haagsche Hopjes. Also a slightly meaty sensation.

Taste: It starts with a nice fresh and not overly acidic lemon and chalk. Do you know those little vitamin C pills by Roter? Well, that too. Again a tiny hint of peach. Really subdued and elegant. The finish comes quick and is soon gone, what really is a shame. Always there, is that little bit of acidity that makes your mouth water, and lest not forget that added creaminess. Not very complex.

The taste maybe a bit too simple, in the nose maybe a little bit too. Still it’s a nice wine. It does have a nice balance, but overall it could have done with some added depth and complexity. Easy to drink, and should hold well when aged. ABV is 12%.

Points: 82

Picture is for the Riesling Reserve. Our Grand Cru looks similar (brown glass).